By Kiana Wilburg
Several industry experts have agreed that the use of confidentiality provisions in Local Content Policies is not just “highly unusual” but also in direct conflict with efforts to be absolutely transparent.
Specifically, Local Content Experts, Nelson Narciso Filho and Renee Tissot were quick to agree that it is indeed “odd” to see Guyana using such provisions in its recently released policy.
Another specialist in the area was said that the move to include such clauses is a signal of what can be expected in the local content legislation. The official said this move would only put additional curbs on transparency and reporting to the public. He added, “It puts barriers on accountability of the regulator.”
As for University of Houston Instructor, Tom Mitro, the best local content practices are ones where the companies share information with the government and the public on how they perform their due diligence, how they vet local suppliers and also share it with other members of the industry to avoid companies using the excuse that they didn’t know that much about the local companies.
Mitro who has more than 40 years experience in the sector, said that being transparent and sharing information assists with providing training and orientation.
The University of Houston Instructor said, “…The only argument I could see for confidentiality is in the actual value of the contract awards so as to keep them competitive. But even that can contribute to potentially inappropriate awards because it is not clear that those companies were valid and not owned by individuals that are connected to the government.”
According to Appendix G of Guyana’s Local Content Policy, several documents were used as a point of reference.
They included policies from Tanzania, Ghana, and Sierra Leone. Interestingly, none of those policies or their local content laws, which were scrutinised by Kaieteur News, had any clause about confidentiality.
Appendix G of Guyana’s completed policy also said that reference was made to the International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association’s (IPIECA) Local Content Guidance Document for the oil and gas industry. Again, this document, which was reported on extensively in the past, and perused yesterday by this publication, does not promote the use of confidentiality provisions.
In fact, no part of the policy explicitly explains why such provisions were necessary and what international best practice they abide by.
Kaieteur News had sent an email to Energy Department Head, Dr. Mark Bynoe for an explanation on the said provisions being retained. Up to press time, no response was received.
Of significance is the fact that confidentiality provisions were never included in the first two drafts of the policy that were done by Trinidadian Local Content Expert, Anthony Paul. It was only included after the Department of Energy awarded a $22M contract to complete the policy to Dr. Warner, who Kaieteur News had reported, has ties to ExxonMobil.
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